Airline news | Airlines must assist passengers or face new regulations, Buttigieg warns

Airlines are being urged by Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to provide better assistance to stranded passengers or face new rules.



Airlines have been warned by Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg that if they don't provide greater assistance to passengers stranded by aircraft cancellations and delays, his department may create new regulations governing customer rights.


Buttigieg is requesting that airline CEOs provide, at the very least, housing for travelers who are left overnight at an airport and meal vouchers for delays of three hours or longer when the interruption is due to a factor within the control of the airline.

Airlines are being urged by Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to provide better assistance to stranded passengers or face new rules.


Airlines have been warned by Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg that if they don't provide greater assistance to passengers stranded by aircraft cancellations and delays, his department may create new regulations governing customer rights.


Buttigieg is requesting that airline CEOs provide, at the very least, housing for travelers who are left overnight at an airport and meal vouchers for delays of three hours or longer when the interruption is due to a factor within the control of the airline.

Airlines "strive to provide the highest level of customer service," according to a spokeswoman for Airlines for America, a trade association whose members include American, United, Delta, and Southwest, and who also said the industry is dedicated to overcoming obstacles like a competitive labor market.


Recent regulations on refunds for travelers whose flights are canceled or rescheduled were introduced by Buttigieg's agency. The department is exploring new regulations, he said, "that would significantly broaden the rights of airline passengers who face disruptions." He also informed the CEOs of this.

Since the end of the spring, Buttigieg has been at odds with the airlines over a large number of delayed flights. In his most recent attack, he informed airline CEOs that he valued their increased staffing and schedule-tightening efforts to better match the canceled number of flights they could handle.


The amount of inconvenience Americans have faced this summer, he continued, "is still intolerable.


Buttigieg's endorsement of schedule reductions was disputed by the leader of another airline trade association. These reductions, according to Regional Airline Association president Faye Malarkey Black, are particularly harmful to customers who utilize smaller airports and are motivated by a pilot shortage.

Since the end of the spring, Buttigieg has been at odds with the airlines over a large number of canceled and delayed flights. In his most recent attack, he informed airline CEOs that he valued their increased staffing and schedule-tightening efforts to better match the number of flights they could handle.


The amount of inconvenience Americans have faced this summer, he continued, "is still intolerable.


Buttigieg's endorsement of schedule reductions was disputed by the leader of another airline trade association. These reductions, according to Regional Airline Association president Faye Malarkey Black, are particularly harmful to customers who utilize smaller airports and are motivated by a pilot shortage.

To solve the pilot shortage, Black added, "means solving it for the long run, not merely reducing capacity until the only people with air service are those going between the main urban utilize centers," as there is a lot of responsibility to be shared in this problem.


According to tracking firm FlightAware, airlines have canceled over 146,000 flights this year, or 2.6%, while nearly 1.3 million have experienced delays. In comparison to the same period in 2019, before the pandemic, the rate of cancellations is up almost one-third, and the rate of delays is up almost one-fourth.

Many of the delays have been attributed by federal officials to understaffing at airlines, which pushed staff to leave once the pandemic began. The Federal Aviation Administration, which hires air traffic controllers, has been blamed by the airlines in response for having a manpower shortage.


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